Tamil Nadu

Without regularisation, doctors ‘denied’ maternity leave benefits

Tamil Nadu, Chennai, 22/05/2021 : ( FOR CITY ) Doctors check covid patient status in ambulance at Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital, in Chennai on Saturday. Photo: Ravindran R/The Hindu  

The State government recently increased the maternity leave period for government employees from nine months to 12, but a group of doctors, who have been working for nearly four years, have been “denied” the benefits as their services are yet to be regularised.

A number of non-service postgraduates, posted in institutions under the Directorate of Medical and Rural Health Services (DMS) since 2017, have not received their maternity leave benefits, as they are not regularised employees. The Special Qualifying Examination of Medical Services Recruitment Board (MRB) to regularise those appointed temporarily as assistant surgeons, medical officers and non-service PGs has not been held since 2016.

“As a result, we continue to remain non-service PGs, with the same salary of ₹63,000, for four years. We were recruited under Rule 10(a) (i) (temporary appointments) of the Tamil Nadu State and Subordinate Services Rules. The special examination to regularise our services has not been conducted for five years. When I availed maternity leave, I went without pay. But those working in Directorate of Medical Education institutions have received maternity leave benefits,” said a doctor who has been working in a government hospital since 2017.

It has been over a year since Prathibha (name changed) returned to duty after nine months of maternity leave, but there has been no sign of benefits. “It was a ‘loss of pay’ for nine months. I was made to run from pillar to post seeking the benefits, but to no avail. The leave was categorised as ‘medical leave’ and not ‘maternity leave’. When I took this to the officials, they said I was a non-regularised staff. I grew tired due to the lack of response,” she said.

There are around 30-40 women doctors — all non-service PGs across batches from 2017 — working in DMS institutions, and they have not received maternity leave benefits, she said, adding: “We are few in number, and that is the reason why our plea has not been addressed. Many want to continue to work in the government sector.”

Like her, Savitha (name changed), another doctor, had taken maternity leaves for two pregnancies. “In four years, I have gone without pay for nearly two years. At least the special exam can be held to regularise our services,” she said.

“The problem persists since 2016 due to the delay in conducting the special qualifying exam. This is purely a case of administrative delay. These doctors have completed two years of service and their right to maternity leave salary benefits should not be denied. The government should consider sanctioning their salaries and conduct the exam immediately,” P. Saminathan, president of Service Doctors’ and Post Graduates’ Association, said.

He pointed to the State government’s recent affidavit in the Madras High Court, which stated that there was no discrimination in the grant of maternity benefits between regularised and non-regularised employees.

A policy decision

Officials said it was a policy decision that non-permanent (temporary) staff, appointed on emergency provisions and not in regular capacity, did not receive maternity benefits. “Not in regular capacity” is peculiar to non-service PGs appointment under emergency provisions of the service rule.

An official said the issue was explained to the government, which in turn had sought clarification from the Personnel and Administrative Reforms Department.


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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 6:43:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/without-regularisation-doctors-denied-maternity-leave-benefits/article36676005.ece

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